May 16, 2024

Japanese Traditional Songs – いぬのおまわりさん The Dog is a Policeman

Learn the popular Japanese children's song "いぬのおまわりさん" (The Dog Policeman), a heartwarming story about a dog policeman helping a lost kitten. This lesson includes lyrics, vocabulary breakdowns, and engaging activities to enhance your Japanese learning experience.

First, if you aren't familiar with the song, please listen to this:)


Now, let's go through the lyrics for the first verse:


The Dog Policeman

まいごの まいごの こねこちゃん
あなたの おうちは どこですか?
おうちを きいても わからない
なまえを きいても わからない

にゃんにゃん にゃにゃん
にゃんにゃん にゃにゃん
ないてばかりいる こねこちゃん

いぬの おまわりさん こまってしまって
わんわん わわん
わんわん わわん

Vocabulary Quiz

Take this quick quiz based on vocabulary found on this lesson page.


    迷子(まいご) lost; stray

    子猫 こねこ) kitten

    (うち) home

    ()く to ask

    ()かる to understand

    名前(なまえ) name

    ()く to cry; ()く to meow

    おまわりさん police officer; policeman

    (こま)る to be troubled

    (いぬ) dog

    にゃんにゃん meow

    わんわん woof

    Match the Meaning

    Flip two cards to match the Japanese with the English.

    Flashcard Match-Up

    Grammar Talk

    Now, let's go through a few grammatical patterns found in the song.

    ■ まいご こねこちゃん - using の to connect and limits associated nouns

    In the phrase "まいごのこねこちゃん", the particle の is used to connect two nouns, indicating possession or association. Here, "まいご" means "lost child" and "こねこちゃん" means "kitten" with the affectionate suffix ちゃん. The particle の links these nouns to form "まいごのこねこちゃん," which translates to "the lost kitten." This usage shows that the kitten is the one who is lost.

    One way to think of this is の limits the kitten to that of a lost kitten. It isn't just any kitten but a kitten who is lost.

    This particular lesson is taken from the June 2024 issue of Makoto which will be released next week. Thanks to our members, we are able to create lessons like the one you are reading right now.

    If you are a Makoto+ member, you can read an intermediate story about the 弥生時代【やよい じだい】 the Yayoi Period by clicking here. This is an early preview of the new issue! (Not yet a member, click here to learn more!)

    うち - Using the polite prefix

    The polite prefix お is used in Japanese to show respect, politeness, or affection. It is often added to nouns, especially those referring to someone else's belongings, family members, or when addressing someone politely. In the phrases "おうち" and "おまわりさん", お adds a level of politeness.

    • うち: This means "house" or "home." The prefix お makes it more polite, often used when referring to someone else's home.
    • まわりさん: This is a polite way to refer to a police officer, with お adding respect.

    Other examples include:

    • 名前(なまえ): Name (used politely)
    • 手紙(てがみ): Letter (used politely)
    • (みず): Water (used politely)
    • (かね): Money (used politely)

    In each case, the prefix adds a sense of respect or politeness, making the speech more formal or courteous.

    ■ おまわりさん - The Neighborhood Policeman

    おまわりさん is a commonly used term in Japanese that refers to a police officer, especially in a friendly or familiar context. Although it includes the polite prefix お and the honorific さん, it is considered a word in itself.

    • お: This prefix adds politeness and is often used to show respect or affection.
    • まわり: from まわる (to go around—something a policeman does)
    • さん: An honorific suffix that shows respect, similar to "Mr." or "Ms."

    Despite these elements, おまわりさん is used as a single term to refer to a police officer, often when speaking to or about them in a friendly or respectful manner. A おまわりさん protects the safety of the community, enforces traffic regulations, and helps people (and kittens) in need.

    ■ わんわん and にゃんにゃん - Dog and Cat Sounds

    わんわん (or just a single わん) is the sound dogs make kind of like "bark" or "woof" in English. にゃんにゃん is the cat's meow.

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